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Struggling with social delays and Latin

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    Struggling with social delays and Latin

    I'm reaching out on the advice of our co-op leader to gain some wisdom for my 11 y/o son. He is the oldest of my 4 boys with the younger aged 10, 8 and 5. He is very smart, loves to read and does not complain about doing school. That being said, he is a very busy minded child. Not hyperactive, loud or disrespectful. His mind is just going so fast all the time. He can easily stare off and keep his mind busy for long periods of time playing games with his fingers or moving his eyes around. He can be so into his world that he doesn't hear your talking or notice that people have left him or are staring at him. He has a very difficult time staying on task and is highly distracted. He can usually only follow one direction at a time or he gets lost in the directions. I have had him tested for various disorders (ADD, ADHD, Autism) and the therapist called him socially delayed but did not offer an official diagnosis. As you could imagine, he struggles to make friends. He prefers to play with children much younger than himself and is not able to make friends with children his age.

    This weighs heavily on me, obviously, and I am not sure what to do or how to help him. He has a very structured day (out of necessity). He's up at a certain time, dressed and chores done by a certain time, at the school table by 9. Lunch at 11:30 etc. We line out his school work first thing in his planner and I let him work through at his own pace to try to foster some independence. My hope is to help him be less dependent on me to keep him on track during the day. I do check in with him often and he brings his work to me when it's completed so I can check it and make sure he's done what's been asked.

    He is getting to an age where I'm watching his peers soar past him, socially and it's heartbreaking to watch. I know he is only 11, but I have watched him struggle in this way from age 6. I have been told age will help, but it seems to make it more pronounced. Has anyone dealt with a similar situation with your child? Where there methods or therapies that you found helpful?

    Now to the Latin issue:

    We began using MP curriculum when he was in 3rd grade. He did Latina Christiana that year at home. It was a big adjustment for him and our family, but he acclimated well and memorized all of the vocabulary. We joined a 1 day a week co-op for his 4th grade year. Our co-op, at the time, did not have enough students to make a 4th grade class, so he joined a 5th/6th grade class with 2 other 4th grade girls. That year, he did First Form Latin and was able to retain the information, but struggled with his daily work. Our lessons would average about an hour and a half to complete the recommended work. He did finish and pass his class that year and got a great grade on his final exam. We struggled our way through 5th grade/ SF Latin, still taking about an hour and a half a day to complete his work. I did not have an issue keeping him back in SF for 6th grade because he would be in a classroom of kids closer to his age. Having social delays, I was hoping this would be an easy transition. He was so sad to be kept in SF this year while his classmates moved on to Third Form. He is now in SF for the second year with his younger brother. His younger brother is taking to it easily and has integrated into the classroom well. My older son still continues to struggle with his daily work and to operate in the classroom.

    I'm worried about his year, given that it's his second go at SF and he is still struggling. Our co-op is Latin based and, at the moment, it is not an option to not do Latin. If he cannot complete the SF work or pass his final, the only option is keeping him back another year and his younger brother and classmates will move on again without him. I'm worried how that will make him feel and how it may add to the social strain between him and his classmates. I would love if our co-op slowed down the Latin classes into 2 years, or did a slower paced and faster paced, but they currently don't offer that. The bulk of his social life is co-op and church and if he does not go to co-op he loses a large amount of his possibility to socialize.

    I would love to hear any helpful advice on how to problem solve with our co-op for children that cannot keep pace with their peers in a required subject. Also, if you've had a similar situation and any solutions you found helpful?

    Thanks so much!


    Good morning, Kyle.

    We appreciate your reaching out. You were not forgotten; rather, posting on a Sunday you had a bit of a longer wait for a response than usual!

    MANY of us here have been -- and remain -- in similar situations. We know the heartbreak, the feeling of helplessness, and the sense that no remedy seems obvious. We watch peers and other siblings for whom everything seems to come so effortlessly, whether academically or socially, compared to our child.

    We see all of this magnify with age, just as you describe. At the same time we retain an underlying current of *hope* and a strong commitment because we know all that our child can do!

    Your son's strengths:
    - loves to read (!!)
    - is intelligent
    - does not complain about schoolwork (!!)
    - completed both Latina Christiana and First Form Latin at a young age!

    Your concerns for your son:
    - has a strong need for structure
    - evidences a significant need for reminders and adult assistance to navigate his day
    - follows only one direction at a time
    - "gets lost" in directions
    - stares for long periods of time
    - plays games with his own fingers or moves his eyes around in a way that causes others to leave or stare at him, but he does not notice
    - is sometimes so "into his world" that he does not hear people talking to him


    Let's help him with Second Form Latin!

    He is bright, loves to read, is willing to work hard, responds well to a structured routine, and is motivated to succeed in SFL. He wants to move to Third Form Latin with his classmates. He wants to remain in the co-op. It is only October, so you are catching this at a good time.

    Set a goal. The goal cannot be "to be like everyone else" or "to learn without help at the pace of his peers." The goal is to succeed in SFL this year!

    Consider any or all of these that have not yet been implemented:

    - Could you add 20-30 minutes of SFL review to his days? In FFL and SFL, cumulative knowledge is essential for moving forward. If he could review daily from now until the end of the school year, this might help. The review could be somewhat independent MWF, such as through studying flash cards, listening to the CD, or watching the DVD of previous lessons. On TTh, for example, you could review with him.

    - Will the teacher allow the Desk Charts? If not, can you use these at home if you are not already? The visual cues may help his memory.

    - Do you sense that he is remembering FFL? If not, have you seen the FFL Review? Or the FFL Wall Charts? He might appreciate having these in his room. He sounds similar to my son. My son likes to post non-fiction reference items (maps, etc) on his bedroom walls.

    - Does he enjoy games? If you have time, you can play hangman-type Latin games on the board, Latin "Scrabble," or Latin relay races with teams comprised of your son and his siblings (only if this would help and not serve to illuminate differences).

    - Is the SFL teacher willing to tutor once weekly? If yes, you might combine this option with the above strategies.


    When was he tested? By whom? You mentioned a therapist who concluded only "social delay" but no formal diagnoses. A better understanding of the workings of his mind could be very helpful to you and to your son. If you agree, a more thorough evaluation might be something to pursue if your insurance covers this.

    If this is not possible, not desirable, or if you find that you have a long wait, you have already suspected ADD and autism spectrum disorder. You may proceed with any and all of your strategies that are already working well for your son. We did this for years with our son, even though we suspected ADD and autism as you did with yours from age 6 onward, if not earlier. Our son was not formally placed on the autism spectrum until age 11, in large part because we "managed" just as you did. When the social, maturity, and learning gaps became more glaring, diagnoses became easier for evaluators.

    Whether or not you pursue a more thorough and definitive assessment, you might review the symptoms of common difficulties that cause the same symptoms you see. Processing, working memory, executive function, and more impact both social interactions and learning. As you understand the unique workings of his mind, you can better explain his difficulties -- and his strengths -- to him and to his teachers.

    Thanks for asking --


      Cheryl, this is wonderful advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all of that out. I feel like there are definitely things I can implement for him there, and great suggestions to offer our co-op to better help. You have also pushed me to get a second opinion on him and make sure nothing was missed there.

      Can I ask, how old is your son now? And were there specific therapies that you felt like were more helpful than others? I've just been given the name of a tutor who specializes in brain therapy. I know little about it, but the mother who recommended it has a son who is dyslexic and struggles with dysgraphia and has seen a great improvement. She feels like it might be a good fit for my son.

      Thanks again!


        You are welcome. My son and his twin sister are now 25 years old. Our favorite therapies were OT, PT, Speech (articulation) and Language (receptive, expressive, and pragmatics).

        You might enjoy reading their story with specific tips included throughout, Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child.
        Sample The second edition of this revolutionary book guides parents, teachers, and schools in implementing the beauty of a classical education with all chil